It’s a new year and a time for fresh starts. Resolutions are being made to lose weight, pay off debt, save money, find a better job, …even make the bed every day! What New Year’s resolutions are separating or separated parents making for the benefit of the kids and their own mental health? It doesn’t matter you’re currently going through a divorce, recently divorced or the paperwork was finalized 10 years ago. There are many goals you, as a parent, can set for yourself to improve your relationship with the ex or the kids. Some goals to keep in mind may be:
1. Spending quality time with your kids.
Whether you’re taking the kids to the park or the zoo, attending school events and functions, or helping them with their homework, you should focus on spending quality time with your children. Sometimes, it’s as simple as listening when your son or daughter open up to you and want to talk about their friends or problems at school. Do your best to make your children your primary focus in 2014.
2. Don’t talk negatively about your ex and never talk about your case with your kids.
Remember, just because the kids aren’t in the room doesn’t mean they’re not listening. Children tend to assume that problems are their fault, especially if you’re complaining that the ex is behind on the child support payments or that the ex is giving you a hard time about visitation. Even if you hate your ex, you should be encouraging your child’s love for the other parent. It’s important for a child to know he or she is allowed to love the other parent and have a healthy relationship. Be happy that your child has another active parent – there are many children who don’t have two parents and many children who have an “absent” parent who never spends time with them.
3. Communicate better with your ex and try to “play nice”.
Remember the good times so that you can work on improving your relationship with your ex. Share news about the kids, support each other through your kid’s growing pains, and co-parent as well as you can. Pick your battles and be flexible instead of arguing about every little thing. It’s not productive to argue about rescheduling visitation time due to a scheduling conflict or to argue about extending the visitation time by an hour or so for a good reason. Just because your relationship is over doesn’t mean that you’re no longer a part of each other’s families. Parenting doesn’t end when your kids turn 18, so resolve to develop a caring and friendly relationship with your ex so that you can enjoy the present and look forward to the future.
4. Act and think differently.
Take the time to self-reflect and figure out what went wrong with your prior relationship to improve yourself so that you aren’t bringing baggage to and making the same mistakes in your next relationship. Also make time for yourself and pursue your interests so that you can be more rounded. Live as an example for your children since your kids will mimic your social interaction skills and your attitude. Ensure the happiness of your children by making yourself happy, too.
5. Keep your private life private.
You’re going through a difficult time in your life and your friends and family are sympathetic… to a point. Your friends and family will be there for your and will lend an ear to your problems for some time, but be conscientious! Resolve to stop talking about your ex with your friends and family or, if you must, put a limit on the length of time your vent session will last. There have been plenty of studies done on students showing that they zone-out after 15-20 minutes of lecture, so, with this is mind, try to restrict yourself to that time frame. Let’s face it, your friends and family will appreciate that you are being mindful and considerate of their time and patience.